Intervention design

For this project, the American Press Institute, with the assistance of the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, fielded interest from newsrooms to participate in this inaugural cohort. Our goal was to have a cohort inclusive of broadcast, digital-first and traditional print newsrooms working within the city. We also reached out to newsrooms specifically targeted to communities of color, and student newsrooms. After speaking with several, we selected five different newsrooms to participate in the cohort. These were the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Public Source, the Pittsburgh City Paper and Pitt News, the student newspaper of the University of Pittsburgh. No broadcast newsrooms decided to join the cohort. It also should be noted that no broadcast newsrooms opted to participate in the 2016 diversity study conducted by the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation. 

Following the selection of the cohorts, API conducted research in three phases. First, we had each newsroom complete a two-part survey. In the first part, newsrooms were asked questions related to diversity and internal newsroom culture. In the second part, we asked newsrooms about their coverage and engagement practices within the community. In the second phase, we conducted interviews with workers from each participating newsroom. These interviews, which were set up by the newsrooms, included editors, frontline reporters and business staff. Finally, we conducted a review of content from each newsroom. For each newsroom, we looked at two select weeks of articles from two separate months, using our Metrics for News and Source Matters news tracking tools.  

Following our research, we held a two-day cohort summit where we revealed our findings to each newsroom. Also during this summit, we provided a series of lessons on how to make improvements in each of the areas of the Index. This included lessons led by API staff on community engagement, lessons led by Trusting News staff on building trust back within communities, and a series of guest lectures focused on the development of mission metrics, the concepts surrounding Solidarity Journalism and discussions of internal culture within the newsroom. During this session, we also introduced the cohort to a framework to assist them with the development of strategic plans.  

Several months after the cohort sessions, API staff led two in-person community listening sessions that involved the newsrooms. In the first, the professional newsrooms heard perspectives from community members of color from the Pittsburgh region. In the second session, Pitt News listened to perspectives from students of color attending the University of Pittsburgh. A combined total of 18 people attended the sessions. This information was then used to inform our final report.  

Following the listening sessions, each team worked with consultants and API staff on their final strategic plans. Summaries of these plans can be found via this Twitter thread. They may also be found on the American Press Institute website. 

Research phase 

In addition to this extensive research specifically focused on the five participating newsrooms in this cohort, we also have included secondary material and other research collected by Letrell Crittenden, the lead author of this work. Crittenden has conducted previous research into the Pittsburgh media ecosystem. Permission to use research gathered for past projects related to the Pittsburgh news media ecosystem was granted to the author of this report by respondents.

In total, information used to compile this report came from the following sources:

  • Six newsroom surveys completed by the participating cohort members (2022)
  • 37 interviews of newsroom workers from participating cohort members (2022)
  • Review of more than 800 articles, via API’s Source Matters and Metrics for News  
  • Two community listening sessions (2022)
  • 11 interviews with community members (2022 and 2020)
  • 30 additional interviews with newsroom workers conducted in 2018 and 2020
  • 12 additional community conversations conducted in 2018 and 2020  

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